The pre-Christmas showcase, which enters its sixth season, will be held Dec. 21 and feature 12 teams from metro Atlanta matched up for six games inside the Hound Pound.
“I’m really excited about this year’s event,” SEBA director William LoPresti said. “We’ve put together one of the strongest fields we’ve ever had and every team will be facing a quality opponent. It should be a lot of fun.”
Six Cobb County teams are scheduled to participate, including Pebblebrook, Sprayberry, Kennesaw Mountain, McEachern, Pope and North Cobb Christian. They will be joined by Paulding County, St. Pius X, Blessed Trinity, Berkmar, Starr’s Mill and Greater Atlanta Christian.
“The Cobb County area is strong in basketball with some great teams and players year in and year out,” LoPresti said. “This event will showcase those teams, players and coaches and it’s been a blessing to put this on.”
The marquee matchup of the day will be between Greater Atlanta Christian and North Cobb Christian. The Spartans won the Class AA championship last year, while the Eagles have been a Class A championship contender the past few seasons.
The Spartans return four starters and nine players from last year’s team, while the Eagles return seniors Hunter Ware, Stephon Jelks and Kendall Crute who are out to capture their first state championship. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m.
Pebblebrook takes on Paulding County at 1 p.m. to lead things off. Sprayberry against St. Pius X follows at 2:30 p.m. Kennesaw Mountain faces Blessed Trinity at 4 p.m., McEachern goes against Berkmar at 5:30 p.m. and Pope hosts Starr’s Mill at 7 p.m.
“It’s a chance for us to play somebody different and competitive that we don’t normally see,” said Sprayberry coach Marc Carver. His Yellow Jackets have gone 3-0 at the event with victories in 2008, ’09 and ’10. Sprayberry, the defending Region 7AAAAA champions, return region player of the year Armel Potter and athletic forward Nkem Ojeh. St. Pius X reached the elite eight in Class AAA behind 6-foot-10 forward Nick Harris and guard Will Maguire.
“We’ve done well at this event the last couple of years and hopefully that will continue,” Carver said.
Juniors Ty Hudson and Trhae Mitchell will lead Pebblebrook against Paulding County seniors Raasean Davis and Michael Hmphill, while Kennesaw Mountain senior Andrew Jimenez and junior Nigel Hayes will go against Blessed Trinity senior and first-team all-region selection Patrick Lamar along with his senior backcourt mate Garrett Michael.
Seniors Jonathan Sanks and Tim Rowe have helped lead Berkmar to consecutive quarterfinal appearances in the state’s highest classification. The Patriots will be a tough test for the Indians who have all-region honoree Logan McIntosh returning with senior forward Lawrence Castor.
Pope’s talented junior class includes guard Chase Hutchins and athletic wing player Garrick DeBowles. Starr’s Mill, which reached the second round of the Class AAAA tournament last year, brings back four starters from last year, including 6-7 forward Jeremiah Vrundy and first-team all-region selection David Watson, who is an outside scoring threat.
“We’re going to have a great lineup this year,” Pope coach Pat Abney said. “It’s really a good field. Every team will face a quality opponent with players capable of playing at the next level.
“Every game will be competitive and feature some marquee players.”
“Every game brings some intrigue, whether it’s style of pace or matchups at certain positions,” he said. “I expect each game to be exciting.”